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Strengthen your brand with storytelling – 5 tips

Stories that make your brand more than just a logo

Stories help us understand the world around us. We constantly tell ourselves little stories to make reality make sense. Storytelling can therefore be said to be part of the foundation for our experience of the world. Scientific studies reveal that storytelling causes the brain to release happiness hormones such as oxytocin and at the same time reduces the amount of the stress hormone cortisol.  

Moreover, stories make it easier to relate to new things and remember them. This also applies to companies, brands, and websites. In this article, we explore the topic of storytelling from a marketing perspective. Read along to get examples and 5 good storytelling tips that will strengthen your brand. 

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What is storytelling?

Storytelling is the art of conveying stories in a way that gets the recipient to immerse themselves and go beyond just information and data. If you’ve ever become drowsy during a long PowerPoint presentation or a boring lecture, then you’ve probably experienced the opposite of storytelling. What is missing is often effective storytelling. When we are bombarded with numbers, data, and facts without relatable context, the information quickly fades from our memory. 

When storytelling works

Contrary to the example of the boring lecture, you have, perhaps, also experienced being carried away by an advertisement for a product that you were otherwise not all that interested in. It was probably because the storytelling in the advertisement was good, and contained characters and points of view you could relate to.  

Stories are one of the most effective and persuasive forms of communication. This is why you should use them in your marketing strategy if your goal is to build a stronger personality for your brand. 

What is brand storytelling?

Brand storytelling involves linking several plot elements together to create a narrative that makes it easier for your target audience to relate to your brand. Your brand’s narrative consists, among other parts, of your company’s history, company philosophy, goals, and values.  

With the help of structured storytelling, you can breathe life into your brand’s personality and thus create an emotional connection between your brand and your audience. 

Brand storytelling typically consists of a long series of smaller stories that you convey via your website, your marketing campaigns, social media, and other types of communication. 

Why storytelling is important for brands

Storytelling is indispensable in a good marketing strategy simply because potential customers are much more likely to remember seeing your campaign or post on Instagram if it shows a relatable narrative, even if it only lasts 18 seconds. 

Examples of brands with effective storytelling

Before we delve into how you can use different types of storytelling, we’ll look at 3 companies that have already had great success with brand storytelling. 
 

The companies in these three examples naturally have a budget that is far greater than that of smaller companies, but we still think that they illustrate how you can use storytelling in various creative ways, even if you have a more limited marketing budget. 

Apple’s sustainability report

In 2023, Apple presented its sustainability report in the form of a 5-minute-long video with impressive storytelling. Instead of sharing the report exclusively as a text with data, graphs and platitudes, they used this video campaign, where a team from Apple, including CEO Tim Cook, are grilled by an actor playing the role of Mother Earth.  

It’s hard not to get carried away by the action and dialogue in the video, which illustrates why storytelling is so effective. 

Oatly’s “About Us” page

Swedish oat milk producer Oatly is known for their humorous and often brutally honest storytelling. It is used for everything from LinkedIn posts to texts on milk cartons and large advertising signs. 

Many companies have a dry and boring About Us page, but this is not the case with Oatly, who diligently uses both visual and written storytelling. 

On Oatly’s About Us page, the oat milk giant doesn’t just describe who they are and what their goals are. They also peek out from the text, grab a hold of the reader’s expectations, and turn them upside down. They do this by not just writing about the company, but also about the actual process of writing about it. Here is an example from the text: 

“We need to make the oat drink story interesting enough that people don’t fall asleep while reading!” 

Oatly

Lego’s sustainability page

On Lego’s website, the section on sustainability includes a video where the company’s efforts are shared, with Lego character cartoons providing visual support. When it is mentioned that Lego uses sugar cane in the production of bricks, one of the characters sticks his head out from a cluster of Lego sugar cane. The introduction of the Lego characters makes you instantly more invested in the information being conveyed. 

Different types of storytelling

With so many different forms of storytelling we can’t realistically cover them all in this article, but what follows is a good handful that are both effective and useful for businesses and brands of various sizes.  

Even if you don’t have a brand per se, rather a blog or a website where you share your passion with the world, you will probably still be able to make use of several of them. 

Your brand’s story

The story of your brand and your company is an important part of your brand’s personality. It is because it is much easier to form an impression of a company if you understand how it came to be, who the people behind it are, and what its goals are. 

These are the questions you should answer when sharing the story of your brand on your website: 

  • Why was the company started? 
  • Who started it? 
  • How did it happen? 
  • What is the company’s vision?

If your business is already well established, you can also talk about what successes you have experienced and what obstacles you have overcome. 

The writing process

If, like many other writers, you experience writer’s block when you sit down at the keyboard, you can make use of the AI writing assistant in the Website Builder from one.com. When you give the AI assistant a few key words about your company, you get a finished text in an instant. You can of course edit and adapt the text completely to your storytelling strategy. 

Character-driven storytelling

Character-driven storytelling implies that a company creates a character that can represent the brand. The character can be a real person, e.g. yourself or Thomas from your marketing department. But it can also be a fictional character or a mascot. 

Which kind of character is appropriate to use depends entirely on the type of business you are running. If you choose to use character-driven storytelling, the character can be used across several marketing channels. If the character is popular and used consistently, potential customers will, over time, begin to associate the character’s persona with the brand. 

For instance, if we mention a green owl that is very insistent and pops up on phones time and time again, you probably know which company we’re referring to even without mentioning the name, don’t you?  

A character narrative that matches your brand

Storytelling with a community focus can be used if your company offers products or services that in ways are positive for a community, a neighbourhood, or society in general. Perhaps you have an online shop where you sell jam made from fallen fruit from Manchester and the surrounding area? Or a moving company that only transports moving loads on cargo bikes? Here you can focus on storytelling that makes it clear how your company contributes to positive development or makes an important effort for the environment. 

Customer testimonials

Customer stories, or case stories, as they are often called, are a highly effective form of storytelling that also gives you plus points to your company’s social proof.  

Storytelling with a customer focus leads to stories that come from your satisfied customers. For example, if you have a dog hotel, you can ask if one of your guests’ humans would like to take part in a short video. In the video, the dog owner can tell you, together with the dog, why they are so happy with your dog hotel. 

Customer stories validate your marketing 

No matter what type of business you have, customer stories are worth their weight in gold. This is because potential customers, those visitors who are still considering whether to buy from your business, will be far more likely to choose you if a happy customer confirms that you live up to your marketing. 

From data to results

If you think back a few minutes to the beginning of the article. Here we mentioned a boring PowerPoint presentation with a lot of dry numbers and data. The fact that numbers, graphs, and data are often experienced as boring does not mean that they are not valuable — because they are! It’s just about conveying them in a way that’s easier to relate to. 

Catchy data

Let’s assume you are a freelance UX designer. You have already had several satisfied customers who have experienced an increase in their sales thanks to your help. If you have the opportunity (and get permission to) share numbers that show this, you can use storytelling to your advantage. 
 
Instead of just making a graph or writing how many percent the sales of your customers have increased, you can, for example, make a narrative infographic or a video where you illustrate the process and the result. 

Get started with storytelling – 5 tips

Above, we have reviewed different types of storytelling. In this section, you will get 5 tips for elements that are important ingredients in effective brand storytelling.

1 – Know your audience

Storytelling is most effective and persuasive when you understand your audience and their needs. Before you start putting together your storytelling strategy, it is therefore a good idea to carry out market research.  

Once you have collected data, it will become clearer what you should focus on in your storytelling, such as what problems you can solve for your target audience, how you will solve them, and how what you offer differs from your competitors. 

2 – Be truthful and authentic

The term ‘authenticity’ is probably used a bit too often and too loosely in marketing contexts. Because what does that really mean? It simply means that your storytelling tells the truth about your company and your products, and that your communication gives your audience the feeling that there are people behind the logo. 

You have probably visited a website of a major international brand and experienced that their communication consisted of a lot of platitudes and superlatives that felt empty and meaningless. A text on a website can easily look professional, even while the storytelling is lacking. This is the feeling you want to avoid giving your audience. 

3 – Which problems does your company solve?

As we touched on above, you can easily end up in a situation where you use words that sound good, but which do not make the reader or viewer more aware of what you offer. Instead of just conveying that your product or service is ‘great’, ‘top quality’, ‘practical’, ‘sustainable’ or ‘solid.’, you should answer questions like why is the quality high, what specific problems does your product solve, how is the product manufactured and how can the product be used in the customer’s everyday life. 

4 – Stand out and be different

When you are starting to put together a strategy for storytelling, it will always be valuable to be inspired by competitors. You can therefore visit the website of your competitors and other companies to get inspiration. 

But once you’re actively working on your storytelling, you should add your own unique touch and make sure you don’t get too close to everyone else on the market. Your audience must be able to remember exactly you and your brand. Some of the companies that do best are those that have done something completely new and perhaps even cutting edge. Here it is not about provoking or creating strong reactions, but simply about finding a new angle that is only yours. 

5 – Be consistent

Once you’ve put together your storytelling strategy, you should be consistent with it throughout your communications. The same applies to your tone of voice, i.e. the way you communicate. For example, if you have introduced a character narrative, it will have the greatest effect if you use it again and again. 

Naturally, a company will always need to communicate information in different ways. But regardless of what you communicate, you should be consistent with both your storytelling and your tone of voice. When you do this, it is much more likely that your target group will remember and recognise your brand. 

Storytelling formats

Storytelling can be used in virtually all formats where something is communicated. There is, for example, nothing to prevent you from conveying the story of your company as a comic or a video on your website. 

Your company’s overall storytelling consists of all the smaller stories you share in everything from posts on social media to product descriptions, customer stories and behind-the-scenes video clips from a festive event in your company. The most important thing is that you convey a story and not just data or fancy words, and that the tone of your storytelling matches your company’s concept. Here’s some storytelling formats that can be used in marketing: 

  • Website text 
  • Video content 
  • Image series 
  • Narrative infographics 
  • Comics 
  • Podcasts 
  • Blog posts 
  • Webinars 
  • Posts on social media 
  • Email marketing 

Storytelling: a powerful strategy for brands

Humans have used stories to convey information for thousands of years. Good stories capture our attention, create memories, and shape our perception of the world around us. The stories you tell will help you attract new customers, retain existing customers, increase sales, and strengthen your brand. For this reason, storytelling should always be part of your marketing strategy, regardless of whether you have a large company or a small online shop. 

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